MILAN: Annual online sales of luxury goods are set to more than double to over €15bn globally in four years' time, as both brand owners and shoppers heighten their activity on this channel, a study has predicted.

Altagamma, the trade body, partnered with McKinsey, the consultancy, to survey 300 manufacturers, alongside assessing 700 websites and 2.5m relevant comments uploaded to the net by consumers.

They predicted that ecommerce sales of high-end products grew by 28% to €6.2bn worldwide last year, a 3.2% share of revenues. Growth for this channel thus outpaced the category as a whole, which expanded by 10%.

Looking ahead, the report forecast that the net would yield €15bn in 2016, implying a market share of 5.3%, the analysis suggested.

"The digital channel is continuing to attract the growing interest of big luxury players," it said. "Together with Asia and South America, over the next decade the digital channel will be the most promising 'geographical' market for the overall growth of the sector."

More broadly, the study stated that 15% of industry revenues are currently impacted by digital media, as an additional €17bn to €18bn are "directly generated" by experiences on the internet.

A further €34bn of purchases were "influenced" by the web last year, as part of the broader marketing and brand-building mix.

The core priorities of the executives questioned were strengthening their brand online, cited by 23%, as well as boosting direct and indirect sales on 17% and integrating traditional and new media on 12%.

Some €3bn in web sales in 2011 were attributable to single-brand or multi-brand platforms carrying goods at full price, while €2.4bn went to discount and event services, and €900m went to department stores.

A separate poll of 2,500 category shoppers by Altagamma and McKinsey found 40% would buy more luxury items on the net if they received personalised pricing. Another 19% mentioned simpler purchase processes and 16% said they wanted exclusive products to be made available.

Price and the quality of selection were given as the main drivers when choosing an ecommerce vendor, each receiving 4.2 points out of five, beating the range of goods sold on 4.1 points.

When researching these types of purchases, buyers looked at four internet sites on average. Department stores had the highest score on 48%, ahead of brand websites on 43% and multi-brand platforms on 38%.
  • The first paragraph of this story was corrected to show that online luxury sales will surpass €15bn globally in four years' time.

Data sourced from Altagamma; additional content by Warc staff